Get ready for shuttered libraries and recreation centers, a top city of San Diego official told a City Council committee Wednesday morning.
Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone said the city cannot close its looming $72 million budget gap without eliminating some libraries and recreation centers. For good.
“Given current economic conditions we would be closing them with the expectation that they would be permanently closed,” Goldstone said in response to questions from Councilman Todd Gloria.
Goldstone said the city is developing a formal plan for handling closures. It would address how the facilities would be sold, leased, boarded up or otherwise managed if they’re shut down.
Unspoken during that portion of this morning’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting was a way out: Proposition D and an estimated $100 million annually in new sales tax revenue if it passes.
Our media partners at NBC 7/39 have a full report here.
Also during the committee meeting Council members Marti Emerald and Carl DeMaio said they wouldn’t vote for further planned reductions to public safety services.
The potential library and rec center closures are just one of numerous issues bubbling up about city politics. I’ll round them up with some quick hits, Tom Blair-style.
One of the 10 reforms tied to Prop. D involves the city creating a 401(k)-style retirement plan for existing employees to choose instead of their current defined benefit pensions. It’s easier said than done.
Right now, federal rules bar employees already in a pension system from choosing a different plan without making all retirement contributions taxable. Orange County, which is developing a similar idea, is lobbying Congress about changing the rules.
San Diego leaders are doing work, too. As part of a delegation of political and business officials in Washington D.C. this week, incoming Chamber of Commerce Chairman Vince Mudd said he, Councilman Kevin Faulconer and a Faulconer aide met with U.S. Treasury Department officials about San Diego’s potential 401(k) plan on Tuesday.
“We met with the people who were literally drafting these waivers and who are working with Orange County right now,” Mudd said.
Mayor Jerry Sanders and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith already have sent a letter to the IRS asking for changes.
City Council will discuss a report from Mudd’s task force on tightening Prop. D’s reform targets on Monday, Council President Ben Hueso’s spokeswoman said.
Supporters of Prop. D already have endorsed the Mudd report, which calls for $73 million in savings annually.
Another Prop. D reform calls for the city to solicit interest from private companies to take over Miramar Landfill. The city already has done it.
Prop. D proponents argue the reform anticipates the city privatizing the landfill and its operations. KPBS has a story looking at the potential pluses and minuses of doing that. A recommended read/listen.
I learned one interesting nugget from a conversation with District 8 City Council candidate Felipe Hueso before a debate Wednesday morning in San Ysidro.
If elected, Hueso said he would recuse himself from discussions involving a potential new redevelopment area in southeastern San Diego because he and his family own multiple properties there. Hueso’s brother, Ben, the current District 8 councilman, has recused himself from these discussions for two years for the same reasons.
This means that if Hueso’s elected, District 8’s representative will continue to be silent on an important and contentious issue in the district.
I have a call in to David Alvarez, Hueso’s opponent, to see if he would be able to discuss redevelopment expansion if he was elected.
Here’s a picture you don’t see every day.
That’s Goldsmith and the man he ousted, former City Attorney Mike Aguirre. They were at a press conference on Proposition B, a ballot measure that would change rules for firing assistant and deputy city attorneys. Goldsmith is a supporter and so are Gloria and DeMaio. Aguirre is opposed.
A hat tip to firefighter union head Frank De Clercq for sending the photo.
Finally, I’ll make one last plea to attend our debate on Prop. D between Gloria (Yes on D) and Faulconer (No on D). To entice you a bit, we’re having one twist in addition to the moderator/audience driven format. I have solicited questions from Gloria and Faulconer, and they each gave me great ones they are going to ask each other.
The hour-long debate begins at 5 p.m. at the Westin Gaslamp Quarter at Horton Plaza downtown. If you can’t make it (or even if you can), please make sure to e-mail me your questions in advance.